An ILO study detailed 42 cases of forced labour in Germany, where migrant workers in particular find themselves tricked into situations where they are forced to work for low pay – or no pay. ILO TV reports from Germany on a new union set up especially for workers away from home.

Date issued: 05 May 2005 | Size/duration: 00:02:04 (3.39 MB)
If the video is not displayed, download the free RealPlayer™

The nuclear power station at Kalkar had never been used, so when the new owners wanted to turn it into a holiday camp, there was plenty of demolition work to be done.

Subcontractors hired workers from Kazakhstan. They brought them into the country illegally, paid them two euros 50 an hour, far below the construction industry minimum wage of 12 euros.

When this man was killed in an accident, it took police days to identify him. The subcontractor was fined 2000 euros but only for violating safety regulations.

According to a recent International Labour Office report on forced labour the simple threat of expulsion is coercion enough to keep migrants from speaking out against unfair or unsafe working conditions.

Now a new union has been formed to help protect the rights of migrant workers.

Agnes Jarzyna: European Migrant Workers Union

We try to inform these workers about their rights and we can recognize that the people want to organize this organization because it’s their own trade union.

Jozef Kazmierek, from neighbouring Poland, has been coming to Germany to work – legally – for many years.

Jozef Kazmierek: Polish migrant worker

…with high unemployment and poverty in Poland, we are being forced to do this kind of migration.

The big union IG Bau, which helped set up the migrant workers union, wants to protect the rights of all workers, German and migrants alike.

Michael Knoche: IG Bau

It seems obvious that these people from foreign countries take away the jobs of the then unemployed people in Germany and there’s a lot of anger beneath our members of course about this issue and we try to not fall into this trap.

The government is looking into the question of protection of the workers and the influx of chief migrant labour.